7 reasons why we are quitting screens for a year



On Saturday, June 24, 2017 we started our year of no screen time for the girls. We even put our tv into storage. I've had a difficult time writing this because I don't want it to come across as negative or judging anyone for how they parent. So please read this through the lens of it being our particular story at this time of our life. I'm hoping to be vulnerable in case there are some people out there who could relate. And even if you are at a different, better place with screens, I hope it will still be an interesting journey, I will need some cheerleaders!

I didn't struggle much with screen time at the beginning of motherhood because my oldest, Anna, was very busy and didn't care for the tv. But when I had my second it started to be on more and more. I was tired. A few months ago I had strep throat... cue Netflix for the next 2 months. Ok -- it wasn't quite that dramatic but that's kind of where I can pinpoint a downward spiral of altogether way more screen usage than I would have ever dreamed of when I was a budding expectant mother. My baby would have no screen time before age 2. That is what's recommended, right?

This was a noble cause. I have nothing but respect for people who have followed through with that -- it is really challenging!  But if you are like me, it started small but became a necessary part of daily life. It was survival. And it became normal... I would throw it on if they were up early, if I was trying to make a meal or get ready in the bathroom, before supper, and sometimes even for Emilia when she was really difficult to get to sleep (so counterproductive!!). We reached a breaking point when it was on for hours each day. Very impatient mom, very demanding toddler. After looking into it a bit I decided we needed a good long break. My soul felt withered. I knew I could do better.

To break it down, here are 7 reasons why we needed this change in our household.


O N E
(it's not actually helpful)

I thought I needed it to accomplish things, and it was helping. Until I realized it wasn't. Could this be making it worse? If not now, later? To be honest, the tv was making it worse now. Any imagined break afforded by the Paw Patrol hum was in reality a very cranky and demanding toddler, an impatient mom, and ignored duties. Because lets be honest...when the tv would go on, I would sit down with my phone for a quick "break". Because who doesn't want to sit down and scroll Facebook with an obnoxious children's show serenading you as your toddler and baby try to sit on top of you or dig their feet into your legs? So relaxing. So peaceful.


T W O
(not productive, makes us grumpy)

When I did use tv time to get things accomplished my kids would just wonder what I was doing and come find me anyways. So I would then try to convince them to watch it, or try to turn it off since they weren't watching it, but it would end in tears. So I would leave it on and feel so guilty about it. But I would still get grumpy at them for wanting me during my break. An added benefit I didn't realize was how much this screen free stuff has been keeping me off my phone.

T H R E E
(it's not recommended) 

It's very humbling to admit just how much we had the tv on for the girls, who recently turned 1 and 3 years old. The recommended amount of screen time (by the Canadian Paediatric Society) is no screen time under 2 years old, and under one hour for 2-4 year olds. They say the estimated average amount of actual screen time kids under 5 years are watching is 4.5 hours per day. That's just the average. That's around where we were at, sometimes more. When you consider the amount of waking hours a kid has at these ages it's kind of scary. And then they are overstimulated and have trouble sleeping. They are tired and I am tired...so I turn on a show. Repeat.




F O U R 
(time is fleeting)

When I first started considering taking a break from screens one of the reasons close to my heart is that Anna may start going to preschool this fall and the time of both my babies being home with me every day all day is coming to an end soon. I do look forward to it in ways, but only if I am truly connecting with her and she feels secure. I don't want my time with her to be shooing her to watch a show if she is acting out. Because usually it's because she needs me, or it's something that I can help her with. Shows kind of just postpone the feelings (when used in desperation). I want our home to be a place where they feel heard and important, and even though it's not my intention when I am putting on a show to keep them occupied it kind of speaks to them that they are bothering me.

F I V E
(short term pain, long term gain) 

It's a kid's job to play. It's how they learn and process the world and they should be able to play on their own for longer and longer periods of time as they get older. But it is a skill that they must learn as they go. We are a bit behind, I know that. It's going to be difficult at first, but over time with no screens for now and being able to experience boredom they will get back on track. They need to detox from the stimulation that keeps their attention, and makes other activities not as exciting. I also think they will be able to go play more easily if I am giving them my full attention. It's almost as if kids need a certain amount of connection before they can go on their own, at least I have found that with my girls.

S I X
(better sleeps)

No screens can attack this issue from a couple angles. When I was having a good tv day it would stay off in the morning and come on in the afternoon, but that made it very difficult because they would become so stimulated it was tough to get them to come eat and behave at supper. Even after one week with no tv I noticed a huge change with them during meal time! Bedtime falls shortly after we eat and my oldest was having the hardest time falling asleep. Actually both of them would take at least an hour or more to finally fall asleep. They weren't as active during the day with an added dose of stimulation. I am now realizing that the screen time probably played a big part in the sleep troubles...in fact it's proven! (I'll have to find some links for that.)



S E V E N
(it's how I want to be a mother)

I heard a quote by Charlotte Mason that stirred something inside of me. I'll share it at the bottom, but it made me feel that I can do this. It's what's best for my girls right now. They need me. They don't need to be entertained by shows, they want to play. They want to learn how to be little girls, and eventually young women. And they learn that from me, by starting with small little moments together that add up to a childhood filled with wonder, exploring, and rest. Because rest is necessary too. We will grow together. I'll be able to handle their emotions and be patient. They'll be able to listen and learn better if they aren't overstimulated and tired. I'm not a career woman, or a mover and shaker out in the world. I'm just here at home for now. These little people that turn into big people will be my life's work. 

"I venture to suggest, not what is practical in any household, but what seems to me absolutely best for the children, and that, in the faith that mothers work wonders once they are convinced that wonders are demanded of them.” 

- Charlotte Mason

Like the quote says, I have become convinced that more is being demanded of me right now. It is not going to be easy, but we are going to give it a shot! I always love reading when people try something radical...it's so fun to follow along! That's why I'm sharing this. I'd love to hear your thoughts, or have you join us! Someone please join us. Please. and thank you. See, no screen time improves manners...

I will update with how the first week went, and beyond! Have a good weekend! 

xx Amanda



(As a side note, we aren't going to worry if we go somewhere and there is tv, this experiment will be just when we are in our own home!)

(And also since it was Friday I did it 7 Quick Takes style, even though it is a longer post!)



Comments

  1. I think so many moms have been in similar shoes, life with littles needing a break and screen time just seems to slowly take over life. I know I've been there! We went screen free for about a year and a half and it was a great decision. They slept better, for along better, didn't whine as much, and wow their imaginations just took off and they play so well. I hope you see the same things in your kids, it helps to remind you of why you decided to do this in the first place. Best of luck, it took only about a week at my house to see amazing changes!

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  2. I loved reading this! It is so inspiring! I don't have to deal with it yet because Rose doesn't have much interest at this point, but I am sure it is going to be something I struggle to keep balance with down the road. I am so excited to hear how it all goes for you! Also - LOVE the pictures of your girls, they're so cute!

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  3. So awesome Amanda! You put it so well! We recently did the same thing when my 18 mo old started tantruming for the TV, we cut it out. And it makes me so happy to see them with books more often, and even though I spend more time reading to them, I feel more productive over all! Probably because it pushed me to cut back on my heavy screen time. 😏 there is a time and place for screens, but is a relief to feel less dependent on them! Also, love the Charlotte M quote!

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  4. Love it and am looking forward to your updates! I was just talking to my husband about a screen-free week. We need a break!

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